Sunday, April 24, 2016

boston marathon 2016- hopkinton to boston

after stepping across the start line, i looked around at the sea of runners. ahead of me, beside me, behind me. all with one ultimate goal in mind: get to that finish line. it finally hit me within just a few strides... i was running THE BOSTON MARATHON! (and i didnt cry) i had been told that my first mile would likely be fast (a mix of downhill and excitement/adrenaline), but i felt so crowded and couldnt break free. times for the first mile on my watch were reading mid 8:20s, but i didnt care. it was hot and i was already sweating. again, ultimate goal was to finish the race, not go out like a crazy person and try to run stupid fast just to blow up before it was over and be all miserable. i was able to find a little room off to the left side of the road, and ended up running on the sidewalk for a little while. (and was also able to see a friend of my mother in law who lives right on the course and had made me such a lovely sign! thank you christine!)

many times in the first mile i just thought to myself, wow. im really here. seriously, i had all the "first time" feelings. there aren't a lot of things in life that you get to experience for the first time (which sounds weird now that im writing that, but i think you, or at least runners, understand what i mean). my first marathon, ill never experience that again. my first BQ, ill never experience that again. the first time running the boston marathon... never again will i run boston for the first time, and the thoughts were just overtaking me (all good ones). i had met a bunch of runners before the race who were also running boston for the first time and we all seemed to have similar thoughts about it. i spent a lot of time in the first few miles just smiling and checking out all of my surroundings. it still almost didn't seem real.

my wave eventually settled in at a comfortable pace (i figured they seed us in similar paces? maybe? ive since learned a lot about the marathon since running it that i wish i had known before running). i felt like i was weaving a little more than i wanted to through the first 3 miles just to be able to have room to run (and not feel like i was going to step on the heels of the person in front of me). my breathing and stride felt comfortable, i had a few sips of my tailwind here and there, just doin my thing. lots of spectators were out in the front yards of their home, grilling and playing lawn games. a spring break drink fest was taking place at the mile 2 biker bar. the energy along the course was electric, theres no better way to describe it. and the first 3 miles did feel very fast (and very downhill), despite the fact that i was keeping it steady almost 10 seconds slower than i had wanted. i knew the heat was eventually gonna drag me down and i was leery of ruining my race in the early miles.

mile 1 7:59
mile 2 8:06
mile 3 7:55
5k- 24:53 (8:00) 

the first 5k went by relatively smoothly. i was able to run with jamie a little bit right after the 5k mat and she told me about a guy who had apparently tripped on the mat, kicking her right in the thigh and almost ending her race! both were ok, but quite irritating to have happen so early (or at all). i was feeling good, smiling, all was well. i don't think i even turned my music on (side note: i will not even wear headphones if i run boston again. all they did was annoy me and i barely turned them on, maybe listened to 3 songs).

i quite honestly remember nothing from the next few miles other than wonderful crowd support with so many posters that made me smile (not that i remember what they said... well i remember one- "if britney spears can survive 2007, you can survive this". just don't know where i saw it. and all the girls in wellesley had some form of kissing poster). i was pretty focused on running and hydrating and not tripping over railroad tracks or the person in front of me. also the water stops were nothing but a hassle in the first few miles. when i came upon the first one (which seemed to take awhile i felt) the people in front of me stopped like a big wall. wtf? so i moved a little around and ran through it, and then moved off to the left side of the road... to which there was another water/gatorade stop on the other side of the road. you couldn't escape the damn things, and people just up and stopped. as the day went on (and got hotter) there were slippery sticky cups evvvvverywhere. hrumph. but thanks for all the free water and gatorade, boston marathon! i started taking full advantage of the water stops eventually and took mini cold baths at each one. my handheld of tailwind was also disappearing quicker than it had for MDI (i refilled at mile 19 there... i was out of my first half packet before mile 8 here), so i started taking 2 cups of water at the stops- the first i threw down my head/neck, the 2nd i drank (repeat times all remaining water stops. and spoiler alert, yes. even mile 25). no gatorade though. barf (unless it was purple, but it wasn't. i likely would have thrown up purple too. ill stick to my tailwind).

mile 4 8:02
mile 5 8:08
mile 6 8:00
10k- 50:06 (8:03)

i had started to look for my dad, aunt, and step sister shortly before the 10k mark as this was where i had thought they would be. i knew my aunt had a bright neon green poster board so i kept my eye out for that (note: there were a lot of bright neon green posters). sadly i didn't see them, and spent the next two miles thinking i had somehow missed them (but figured they would get my 10k split and know they had missed me and drive to the next spot to spectate). but just after mile 8.5 i happened to look up and to the left and there they were! i screamed my aunts name and scooted into the middle of the road from the far right, flailing my arms like a crazy woman to make sure they saw me (they did)!

i refilled my handheld with water and the other half of my tailwind packet shortly after mile 8. i had brought 2 salted caramel gu with me as well knowing i would likely need a boost if it was hot towards the end of the race, and i had my first salt pill at the 10k mark. we were also graced with a lovely headwind around this time that i am not sure ever left us. i remember it around the 10k mark and i know it was there in the last 4 miles. so obviously, i came along for the ride with us throughout (or so ive convinced myself).

mile 7 8:04
mile 8 8:13
mile 9 8:07
15k- 1:15:29 (8:06)
mile 10 8:07

between miles 10 and 13 i made the decision to abandon any and all time goals i had arbitrarily set for this race. despite feeling very good at the pace i was running through 10 miles, i knew if i kept that pace up i would risk cramping, becoming dehydrated, and maybe not finishing the race. not finishing was not an option. nope, not today. also didn't feel like reliving any feelings like via or around the lake. puking and chest pain wasn't in my boston cards.

i had run the boston course in 2014 from mile 9 to the end. none of it looked the way it did during the race. the books i had read about the course talked about clock towers, and car dealerships... saw none of them. except the dairy queen, wendys, and a donut shop. rude. in hindsight i should have stopped for ice cream... that i would have remembered and would have been awesome. next time. maybe.

shortly after mile 12 i could hear what sounded like a freight train noise up ahead. i knew exactly what it was, but couldn't really even believe i was hearing it from this far away (and what it actually sounded like). i had heard about the "scream tunnel" from the women of wellesley. i turned to the woman running next to me and said "can you hear that? this is gonna be fun".

and it was (but no, i didn't kiss any girls). i wish i had a video camera through this section of the race because there is really no way to accurately describe it. so loud. so much energy. the posters were fantastic. the girls were... fun? i dunno, i was just entertained watching people run over and kiss them, or have the girls kiss their cheeks. some took pictures. there were a few guys stuck in there with posters looking to get kissed as well (don't worry, didn't kiss them either). apparently this stretch of the race is slightly uphill... you wouldn't know it.

coming through wellesley (i think? this whole race is a bit of a blur) i started seeing chalk marks on the ground... CAW! CROW ATHLETICS! hey that's my team!!! and then some names... (wrong order but...) MICHAEL! GARY! JEN! LEAH! MADDY! AARON! and DANIELLE! HEY THATS ME!!!! I KNOW THESE PEOPLE! right after i saw my name i looked up and to the right where i saw dave cheering. i screamed his name (and still to this day do not believe the picture below... i thought i had just screamed his name and waved) and apparently ran over and gave him a high five! going through wellesley and then seeing the crows really gave me a much needed boost at this part of the race.

mile 11 8:26
20k- 1:41:43 (8:11)
mile 12 8:26
mile 13 8:23
half 1:47:23 (8:11)
mile 14 8:36

my times stayed pretty consistent in the mid 8:30s range, but i was feeling really hot. i remember wiping my forehead just after the halfway mat... pure salt. no sweat. fuuuuuck. i grabbed another salt pill and decided to take one of my gu. i had done exactly one run two weeks before with one gu, and it hadn't affected my stomach. i knew i needed it today so i took it, regardless of the consequences i could face (luckily none. welcome back to my life, gu!)

(for those curious, after providence marathon last may, which i felt was a disaster but really actually taught me a lot, i started using tailwind nutrition for my runs. i loved the taste and didnt fall apart and die of dehydration and run to the bathroom after, or during, all of my runs. well, i did fall apart and die of dehydration and run to the bathroom during pineland while using it, but i don't think it was from the tailwind... i think it was from being dehydrated to begin with and then running the first loop without any hydration like an idiot. anyway... tailwind. love this stuff, and use it exclusively now. with the occasional gu now and then. and salt pills. ok so not exclusively, but almost).

oh hey white bib
(i also must say i was very happy with my shorts choice... which, bff will tell you, was quite
a dilemma right up until the day i left for boston. all the choices! meter shorts ftw!
dear oiselle...more colors pleeeeease)

i knew the hills were coming up (we had run a few already, but the hills were coming. ya know, the ones they talk about? heartbreak hill, maybe you've heard of it?) my race hadnt already been broken, but i knew id be super extra slow on them. theyre not bad... if you havent already run 18 miles before. there was quite a party at the newton fire station, which was where the course turns right and heads up. for a long, long way.

mile 15 8:41
25k- 2:08:25 (8:16)
mile 16 8:21
mile 17 9:15

again the energy was amazing from the crowd all throughout newton. lasell college was loud. parties and posters, lots of sticks with vaseline being handed out, popsicles, orange slices... these people had us covered. little kids to high five everywhere (omg i hope they all washed their hands after! spoken like a true mom/germophobe).

i didnt run the hills fast, but i ran. there were numerous times i discussed walking with my self but quickly decided walking wasnt not happening. i didnt come to boston to walk. there were signs all over the road saying "no stopping!" so i obliged. it did happen once when i was trying to get my necklace untangled from my stupid headphones, and for a short bit while screaming at my hamstring at the end of mile 21. after running over the 30k mark i knew my family would see from my updates that i was slowing down (and had lost my BQ pace), so i grabbed my phone and sent a quick text to ty and bff to let them know what was happening so they wouldnt worry. i also wasnt sure how long it was actually going to take me to get to them.

"gonna be a long last 10k but im totally fine. just hot. enjoying every step"

famous last words (this was before the hamstring fiasco) haha. jk, i went faster than i had thought i would for those last few miles, but not without some trouble.

mile 18 9:12
30k- 2:36:34 (8:24)
mile 19 8:39

in the book i had read where it described the race mile by mile, it had said that mile 22 was haunted. of course it was. my favorite number, mile, etc. i had purposely taken the pic of mile 22 sign last year so i didnt stop to do it this year... but i literally came up over a small hill and saw the sign... and my right hamstring decided it had had enough. seized. ugh... this was gonna be a looooonnnnng 4 miles. but i told my damn hamstring to man the F up and keep working. no quitting now!!

i took a salt pill and my 2nd gu (by now i had likely taken 5 or 6 salt pills. im fairly certain i took over 10 for the day. not sure if thats good for me or not). my tailwind was almost gone but i didnt want to keep drinking just water for the last 4 miles (was still taking baths at each water stop though). i have no idea where the photo mat was (30k ish? maybe?) but i had been looking for it since the half because i thought it would be earlier in the race when people were looking fresh and happy. apparently there were two places last year (and also at chicago), but there was just this one. and i made sure to put on a happy face for the camera! who am i kidding, i was stupid happy this whole race (despite some of my grumpy looking official pictures... i was just super focused!)

goal for next time- better stride over photo mat

after you get to the top of heartbreak hill the course is almost quite literally downhill to the finish (just a few small rollers). it can be fast if youve got it in you. which i absolutely didnt. i had run down some race day plans with sam prior to starting, which was basically me saying "im just gonna run and have fun and yay im in boston!" (all the open mouth thumbs up smiling emotions!) and him shooting all of that down with his coaching mumbling about working so hard and if you get to heartbreak and can run fast kick it into gear, 740s, dont miss the finish by 3 seconds..." etc etc etc... hrumph. yeah yeah. but i knew he was right. but this was also long before summer decided to show up at 10:50am in hopkinton and shoot all racing plans out the door. which i was ok with ("im just gonna run and have fun and yay im in boston!"). but i think back to the conversation with him and about how yes, i felt like i had practiced strong finishing kicks and that 5 miles of 7:50s or less wasnt impossible.

my race didnt quite turn out that way, however. at. all. my legs had zero turnover. my hamstring was crying. i wanted to get to the finish in one piece, so i knew i couldnt push it. i also had zero time goals anymore (and actually didnt even know where i was going to end up anyway... cannot do math when running) so i just enjoyed waving to the people on the green line and smiling as i passed spectators cheering for me by name and high fiving all the little ones with their abundance of energy.

mile 20 9:04
mile 21 10:27
35k- 3:05:53 (8:33)
mile 22 8:46
mile 23 9:17

soon i saw it. the citgo sign. i did choke up a little here, but no tears (likely dehydrated? maybe thats why i never cried!) i made it this far. i was upright and smiling. and my family was just up ahead. as much as i had wished at some points earlier in the race that i had seen them, i knew exactly where they were and was so excited to get to them. im not sure if the 40k mat was before or after the water stop (and i swore up and down that i wouldnt stop at the last water stop of the race) but i grabbed a cup and threw it down the back of my neck, grabbed another and took a sip knowing i was dropping off my (empty) handheld and just needed one last drink. (i did not, however, stop at the water stop... open my handheld... dump the cup in...walk through while closing the handheld... with one mile to go... things i have learned since chicago. stupid stupid stupid!)

my family!

i came up over the hill and could see the pink sign they had for me! our blue crow singlets were great for fans to find us, or so ive been told (makes sense). as i ran up i saw ty and my mom right next to each other. i hugged them both quickly before dropping my stuff and running off. they waited over 3 and a half hours (plus) to see me and i gave them all of 15 seconds. love ya!

here i come family!!

and when you hear your bff screaming your name after youve already run by...

you turn around and go back to give her a huge hug! obviously.
#ylmf #ymw

mile 24 9:10
40k- 3:34:40 (8:38)

after hugging my family and bff, i knew i had one mile to go. i looked at everything around me for the rest of the race. i did it. i was going to finish the boston marathon. there are two rudely placed small hills in the last mile, but i barely noticed. the crowds, as they had been thoughout the entire stretch of 26.2 miles, were amazing in this last mile, which is just what you need. i have spent many years spectating the race and now felt what that final stretch was like that i had seen so many times (from a distinctly different viewpoint). although my last few miles werent fast, i felt strong. and i didnt care about my time... i almost felt like i wanted to just stop for a bit and take it all in. i didnt want this all to really come to an end. but the reality is that it had to (who wants a boston marathon 50k?! i do! i do! "how long is this marathon?" "oh its 32 miles!"... dont mind me, i think im funny).

right on hereford, left on boylston

all smiles when you see that finish line

can you find a happier boylston runner? not likely.

i felt like i had such tunnel vision running down boylston, i just kept looking ahead towards the finish line. the ultimate finish line. in all the races ive done, i dont know that ive felt more pride, more excitement, than looking ahead (sooooo far down the road!) to that finish line. i had known that sarah (there are so many sarahs... try to keep track, i dare ya) would be at the race, but i hadnt known where. and all of a sudden, coming down the finishing stretch, i hear someone screaming my name. id heard my name cheered for throughout the whole race (im so happy i put my name on my bib! what fun! theyre all cheering for meeeeee!)... but when i looked to my left, i saw this screaming girl in blue hanging over the barricades with her arms outstretched. it was sarah! yay! i flew into her at a ridiculous force (sorry about that) giving her a huge hug before running off. sadly my tunnel vision was so great that i didnt see katie quite literally right next to her. katie sent me these two pics after the race which made me laugh... seriously, im so sorry i slighted you so hard. whoops. xo

love you both to pieces!

i ran off from sarahs hug (sorry i was so sweaty and gross!) and headed down the final steps of this long awaited journeys end. throughout my training i envisioned this finish in many different ways. i knew i would have seen my family and friends at the citgo sign (but figured i would be a hot crying mess). the infamous right on hereford, left on boylston. id practiced it on my treadmill (crying). i envisioned crossing the finish line (sobbing, crying fool). id known what song i was going to listen to (which ended up being no music at all)... the reality was that from the first time i saw the citgo sign last monday (wow its already been a week?!), right through to the finish line (and beyond), ive never felt so happy. so at peace. no tears. smiling like a darn fool.

mile 25 9:11
mile 26 8:38

this race, this feeling, was a long time coming. and it still doesnt even seem real (and goes by so fast!) chicago seems like a distant memory now. it was a lot of hard work just to get to a qualifying finish... then to registration day almost a year later... the waiting to see if i could even toe the starting line... the hard training, early morning alarms starting with 3s, multiple pairs of sneakers, speedwork, long runs, recovery, ice baths... i wouldnt change one single thing about any of this.

finish 3:46:14 (8:38)

crossing the finish line, hands held high, smiling. that was my dream. a dream realized.


  1. Oh, Dan... GREAT post!Kept me on the edge of my seat all the way thru!! And Fantastic photos. I'm so full of love for and pride in you!

  2. Amazing. There's magic in those hills of Boston.